Mercedes youngster George Russell is eager to keep working with Force India through the 2018 season alongside his racing commitments in Formula 2 amid speculation he could be in line for a Formula 1 reserve role next year.

Russell, 19, won the GP3 title with one round to spare in 2017, prompting Mercedes to strike a deal for him to appear with Force India in FP1 for the final two races of the F1 season.

Poised to move into F2 next year, Russell is hopeful of making his practice appearances more regular through 2018 ahead of a possible move up into F1 full-time the following year.

"I hope that's the plan. Certainly talking with Mercedes, I think we're fairly pleased with what I've been doing at the end of this year," Russell said.

"My main priority will be Formula 2 next year, and this all came about because we had sealed the championship already in GP3.

"I don't want anything to overlap because I'm quite aware that if I win Formula 2 next year, I'll be given the opportunity the following year to drive in F1.

"But if I perform really well in FP1 sessions but don't perform so well in Formula 2, it makes my cause a little bit more difficult.

"I just need to get my priorities right."

Asked how close he is to a mooted reserve role with Force India for 2018, Russell said: "That's a question for Mr. Toto Wolff I think, not for myself! First time I heard about it was when I read it online.

"I don't know, like I say, I focus on one thing. I leave the rest to my managers and Mercedes. They've got my best interests in their hearts, and so long as I'm performing, I just go out there and do my job on the track, and they will worry about the rest.

"I really like the team. We've managed to gel really well together, and you can just see there's a great team atmosphere there. I've spent quite a few days working with them now trying to get as prepared as possible.

"I feel comfortable, and this is somewhere I'd like to start my F1 career."

Russell finished 11th overall during his second outing for Force India at Yas Marina on Friday, before jumping immediately into his GP3 car and taking pole in qualifying for Saturday's opening race.

"It's been busy in one place, then in the other paddock, back to the F1 paddock and back to there. It's been a great day," Russell said.

"It was an experience jumping back into a GP3 car. The first couple of laps were very tricky I think, I was about P17 at one point and then suddenly got back to grips with it and thankfully put it on pole there, so it's great."

 

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